Cultural Asia

The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace



S-21 Prison Museum


Russian Market where you can find anything here

Vibrant night lights




Busy, hectic, messy, vintage but yet developing and vibrant; the best words to describe the city of Phnom Penh. As the Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh is now the centre of economic and governance. Used to be ruled under French, a lot of French colonial architecture can still be found in the cities. French language still also holds a privileged place in Cambodian society and widely spoken especially among the educated members of the older generation.

Behind the current developing state, Phnom Penh keeps Khmer’s dark history. The city becomes the silent witness for the worst genocide history in 20th century.  Up to 2,000,000 Cambodians, nearly a quarter of the country’s then population were mass-killed. The remaining of the victims (bones and the clothing) have not been excavated in the memorial park at Choeung Ek and the Killing Fields and (Tuol Sleng) S-21 Prison is now opened as a museum to public as a commemoration to the victims.

I did not visit the memorial park and the Killing Fields, but the (Tuol Sleng) S-21 Prison Museum. It was already heart-wrenching enough for me. The feeling of walking through the memorial places of the mass killing has never been not soothing at all. However I learnt to understand how the genocide was carried out and how the aftermath still affects the people in Cambodia today.

If the memorial park is too disturbing, try The Royal Palace. The grant architectures remind me of the Royal Palace of Thailand. The complex is not as complex as the Thai’s and it is easier to explore too. Guided tour is also available for visitors. I did not spend too long at the palace compound, probably less than an hour as we still had the next stop to visit ; RUSSIAN MARKET!

Russian Market, what more can I say…. shopping, shopping and shopping! The place is very huge to the extend you may get lost here. It’s pretty similar as Chatucak Market in Bangkok. You can find almost everything here. There are actually 2 main markets in the city, Russian Market and Central Market. My driver was the one who recommended the Russian Market. Well, the locals are always be the best tour guide, aren’t they?

The night life in Phnom Penh is more vibrant compared to Siem Reap. The riverside is where the most swarmed with tourists. The innermost part of the city is the alive at night with many cafes and restaurants around. Every night, there will be a night market held in the area, goods sold varies from clothes, arts and handmade accessories to local food. It is better for ladies travellers to wear modest clothing while in Cambodia. Although there are many Caucasians, sexy attire still attracts attention and it can be uncomfortable. I, myself was annoyed with the unwanted attention from those wandering eyes because of my tank-top.

After all, visiting Phnom Penh is another unforgettable experience. For those who love to blend in authentic South East Asian culture, Phnom Penh is the perfect place to show them all.








In Siem Reap, the famous The Ancient City of Angkor stays as the main focus as one of tourists spots and packed during the day-time. But at night, the Pub Street, Old Market and the Night Market areas are the liveliest. You can find almost everything here, from local Khmer to Western food, souvenirs, pubs and bars to body massage shops.

Siem is a small town after all. The easiest way to go around is to get on a tuk-tuk (A two-wheeled carriages pulled behind a motor). This unique transportation is everywhere across the country and are marginally safer than motorbikes. The locals here are more friendly compared to Phnom Penh. It is safer for ladies travelers to explore Siem than Phnom Penh.

I had glimpses of Boracay and Phuket while exploring Siem Reap, especially the Pub Street. The night life here is not as vibrant as Thailand. But I would appreciate a quiet cocktail session more than loud music, particularly after walking the whole day exploring the temples under the hot sun. Sipping the local brand “Angkor” beer and people-watching, perhaps?

Although Pub Street is alive the whole night long, doesn’t mean it is a zombie town on the daytime. There are still shops and restaurants open during the day. I did not get much things at the Night Market and as I walked around the Old Market, I found another small markets selling souvenirs and local goods. Traditional handicrafts it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind souvenir.

What else you can do here? MASSAGE! My holiday will not be complete without a massage session. Heaven!

Currency: USD (is mainly used) or Cambodian Riel






Ta Phrom, my favourite temple among the other sites in Angkor. This beautiful temple is bound by massive roots of huge trees, complimenting the mysterious feel for everyone who steps into this magnificent temple site.

It was not originally built bound by the trees. Just like the other temples, it used to serve its function as a monastery of the king, modelled on the King Jayavarman VII’s mother image of wisdom. After the fall of the Khmer Kingdom, it was abandoned and was found by French in the condition of the temple had been bound by the giant trees. This human-made temple eventually was overtaken by the nature.

The temple became well-known after the filming of Tomb Raider movie was conducted here. In fact, Ta Phrom is also well-known as the “Tomb Raider Temple”.

We made the best decision to visit Ta Phrom after Angkor and Bayon. By the time we reached Ta Phrom, it was already afternoon when the sun was the hottest. Unless you have the intention to sun-bake, sun block is a YES. There are a few ways to explore the temple sites; by bicycles or by cars. I booked a guided tour which had provided the transport service, a certified local guide and unlimited bottles of mineral water! I was certainly satisfied with my nice and knowledgeable guide. I learnt so much about Angkor from him.

Ta Phrom was the last site of my one-day tour. The whole journey was amazing and unforgettable. I’ve heard stories of those who visit The Angkor will get templed out, nope, I did not get templed out :p


Dress code: Shirt with covered shoulders, long trousers or skirt (below the knees)
You’ll need: SUN BLOCK, bottles of water,hat, sunglasses, umbrella


The Bayon

The Bayon

After our visit to the magnificent Angkor Temple (read my post about Angkor Temple here), we continued to the next site. The Bayon Temple is another amazing site of Angkor Wat that I would say worth the journey. Once we arrived at The Bayon, it was already almost noon and the day was getting hotter.

Stepping into the temple complex, I was welcomed by many massive stones with smiling faces looking to four directions. Each statue features a smile and each smiling face represents the charming smile, sad smile, glad smile and the beautiful smile. It is believed that they are images of The King Jayavarman VII.

I left, wondering how the temple was built. The wall carvings were so beautifully made and detailed. Each of them depict stories of of The Khmer Kingdom and Buddhism.


The face with most beautiful smile

The face with most beautiful smile.

The detailed stone carvings

The detailed stone carvings

I would suggest if you are planning to explore the temples, go with the order of The Angkor Temple for its spectacular sunrise experience, followed by The Bayon Temple and The Ta Phrom. There are more shades in Angkor and the Ta Phrom temples, but not The Bayon. The afternoon sun in Cambodia can be scorching, especially during the summer season. Unless if you are into sunbathing 🙂


Sunrise at the Ankor Wat

Sunrise at the Ankor Wat



The carvings telling stories about Hinduism

The carvings telling stories about Hinduism

Mini rock piles. The locals believe they are to bring good lucks.

Mini rock piles. The locals believe they are to bring good lucks.


I’ve been to quite a number of cities in South East Asia but there is no where more exotic than Siem Reap. The city is famous for its massive Angkor Wat Temple, one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia and which is also one of the UNESCO World of Heritage Sites. Angkor Wat is not the only temple in the Angkor itself consists of magnificent temples, such as Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm.

The largest temple is called The Angkor Wat. It has the tallest pagoda among the temples. Apparently, it is also the tallest point in Siem. The locals are not allowed to build anything higher than The Angkor Wat.

I’ve heard that to explore the whole complex of Angkor can take about 3 days or longer. Some even get templed out from exploring the whole complex. As I only stayed in Siem for 2 days before moving forward to Phnom Penh, I just booked a one-day tour. The tour starts from dawn, to chase for the sunrise. It was a so much inspiring trip. I was awed by the detailed carvings on the temples walls and have learned so much about the Hinduism and Khmer Kingdom. Indeed Cambodia is the Kingdom of Cultures.

One-Day Tour: Angkor Tour Guide
Siem Reap Accommodation: Lotus Blanc Resort

Spending a few days in Penang couldn’t be more peranakan. The moment I stepped into the town, I felt vintage. Penang embraces modernity while preserving its old charm and the heritage buildings. It is fair enough for George Town to be listed as one of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. What a must-do here is to bike around the Art Street Armenian and discover the unique wall paintings. There are many bicycle rental shops which offer the bike rental as cheap as RM10 for a-day-rental. The street art is not only limited to the wall paintings, but also the wrought-iron caricatures with the informal descriptions of the street.

Processed with VSCOcam Processed with VSCOcampenang7 Processed with VSCOcam The town is also famous of its FOOD! Forget about diet and get ready to indulge. Char kwetiaow, asam laksa, popiah, fried oyster omelette, chendol, and the list goes on… But, it can get very oily and unhealthy. And not to forget, the king of fruits or durian. The fruit is very famous here, but I’m not a fan at all so I can’t judge if it is really good and tastes heavenly here.

Curry Noodle - Winner!

Curry Noodle – Winner!

penang5 Penang is a good option for a weekend get-away. There are more things to see and to do here, such as to visit the temples, the Blue Mansion, and the beach. It is unfortunate that I just stayed here over the weekend.


Finally, after exploring Phuket and the islands surroundings, it’s the time for Songkran!

The festival was actually started on the 12th. After the relaxing sea-canoeing in the afternoon (read more about the canoeing tour here), we went back to our hotel, had ourselves cleaned up and head to Patong area to check on the water party.

The trip to Patong by TukTuk was THB400. As we were getting nearer to the destination, the roads gradually changed from dry to wet and more people were seen wearing their raincoats and bringing water guns. We knew, we would not be going back with dry clothes tonight..

Bangla Road, Patong

Bangla Road, Patong

We went to Bangla Road, the hippiest road in Patong or perhaps in Phuket. It was already full of crowds, mostly were foreigners. The celebration there was all about partying, loud music and crazily fun! As we entered the road, anyone just threw water at you and rubbed some minty powder to your face. Yeap, we were fully soaked from head to toe! Sadly, we did not bring our water guns that night.



On the next day, we were ready for the real water fight 🙂 Fully equipped with our water guns, sunglasses and slippers, we decided to go to Phuket Town instead to join the locals. I love the place. The area features an exciting mix of old and new, the colourful blend of Sino and Portuguese cultures. It is not as crowded as Patong, less night clubs, simpler but yet sophisticated.

Phuket Town

Phuket Town



The celebration of Songkran in Phuket Town was more warming. The neighbourhood came together, giving blessings to the passerby, including us who are not locals. They would happily approach you, rub the minty powder or coloured washable paint on your face, another will pour another bucket of water on you and lastly said “Sawatdee-pimai!” (Happy New Year). I had so much fun, behaving like a small kid again, hiding and shooting water at the others as if I’m at a counterstrike field and getting free beers!

I believe this is how the real Songkran all about ; the friendly water fight where people throw water to each other which they believe is a way to wash away all the bad luck from the previous year and substitute it with the good luck instead. And on the other hand it is a festivity of water guns, water cannons and buckets while the intense heat of summer is on.


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